By Caitlin Masessa

On Tuesday, June 6th, Phoenix House began a new chapter by unveiling the relocation of the Derek Jeter Center at the newly renovated Heartwood Campus in Brandon. Funded by Derek Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation, the Derek Jeter Center at Phoenix House works to assist adolescents that are dealing with substance and alcohol abuse and strives to put them back on the path towards a brighter future. “The commitment our two organizations, along with the hard work and generosity of the Hillsborough Education Foundation, is to be sure that adolescents who are faced with difficulties of substance abuse are given a second chance,” the Vice President of Phoenix House Maria Alvarez spoke of the partnership between Phoenix House and the Turn 2 Foundation.

With a relationship that goes back nearly a decade, the Founder of the Turn 2 Foundation, Derek Jeter, was in attendance for the ribbon cutting ceremony along with his sister, and President of Turn 2, Sharlee Jeter as well as their father Dr. Sanderson Charles Jeter. “Everyone has bumps in the road, we want them [teens] to know that there are places you can go to for support,” Derek Jeter spoke of the mission his foundation holds, “Through our partnership with Phoenix House, we try to supply all of our kids with a strong support system that leads them down the path to success.”

“The creation of the Derek Jeter Center at Phoenix House started with the singular hope that it would make a positive impact on people’s lives,” Sharlee Jeter added. With 140 programs operating in 11 states, Phoenix House has been changing the lives of nearly 3,000 adolescents across the nation, and no one is more aware of the impact than Derek Jeter Center Graduate Alex, who decided to turn his life around by joining Phoenix House and becoming a student of the Derek Jeter Center. “I saw an opportunity for me to grow as a person,” Alex addressed the crowd as he received the Derek Jeter Hillsborough Education Foundation Scholarship, “The Phoenix House doesn’t just address substance abuse, they address all the factors that it affects.” Now drug-free for two years, and a graduate with honors from Gaither High School with plans to attend the University of Central Florida in the Fall, Alex thanks Phoenix House for being there when he needed them the most. “The Phoenix House and Derek Jeter Center have my eternal gratitude,” Alex beamed.

With this renovation, the Derek Jeter Center nearly doubles its size than what it was six months ago at West Waters Avenue. “With the opening of this center, we will be able to ensure brighter futures for more young people than we ever dreamed of,” Sharlee Jeter spoke of the larger size of the Center. The relocation within the Heartwood Campus also works to destroy the false assumption that addiction is a moral failing. “Since our new location is in a medical complex, it reinforces the fact that addiction is a disease,” Phoenix House Communications Director Ashley Womble explained.

Along with the rededication ceremony, Derek and Sharlee Jeter announced that the Turn 2 Foundation will donate an additional one-hundred and fifty thousand dollars to the Derek Jeter Center, bringing their total contribution to one million dollars. “What Phoenix House has accomplished over the years is remarkable,” Derek Jeter said, “[Phoenix House] continues to change lives and we’re dedicated to being partners for years to come.”

The Derek Jeter Center at Phoenix House is located on 510 Vonderburg Dr. Suite #301, Brandon, FL 33511.

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